Ross Mackenzie

Nature's March quickening reminds, in the words of naturalist Hal Borland, that "no winter lasts forever, no spring skips its turn." And so, comments on a rising spring selection of items in the news. . . .

The onset of certain spring rites elicits warnings about booze. The American Medical Association, reflecting findings that alcohol consumption is soaring among women under 25 (a 33 percent rise in volume among such American and British women during the five years ending in 2004), calls upon young women to watch the alcohol intake during - particularly - spring break. The consequences can be heavy in multitudinous ways.

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The extent of the booze problem in college? Hear this, by Steve Olson - the author, most recently, of "Count Down":

Out of 8 million college students aged 18-24 in the United States, more than a thousand die each year because of their drinking, Boston University researchers estimated in 2002. They die from auto accidents, alcohol overdoses, drowning, falls and asphyxiation. Five hundred thousand - one in 16 - are injured, many in ways from which they will never completely recover. Six hundred thousand are hit, raped or otherwise assaulted. More than 150,000 drop out of school in part because of their drinking; others see their grades drop and relationships suffer.

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And while on the subject of March, here's one for the books: Come Tuesday, voters in Supreme Court Justice David Souter's hometown of Weare, N.H., will decide whether the town should take Souter's house for an inn prospectively named the "Lost Liberty Hotel"; the inn would feature, smack on the site of Souter's house, the "Just Deserts Cafe." Souter sided with the court majority in the kooky Kelo ruling that said localities may employ eminent domain to take private property for a higher economic use. Angry libertarians deeming private property nearly sacrosanct have put the question on the Weare ballot. Souter inherited his 200-year-old house from his mother, and she from her parents. Stay tuned for word from Weare.

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Of course, the court was emphatically right in its 8-0 ruling saying colleges accepting federal money cannot deny campus access to military recruiters. The case was brought by a coalition of law schools, all spilling chutzpah but many lacking sufficient moxie to allow their names to be publicly attached to the lawsuit - perhaps in the belief that the public would think they had lost their intellectual license to teach the law.

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Ross Mackenzie

Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.

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